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With the launch of a number of HnB devices in Korea in 2017, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety had announced its aim to analyze the products. The main aim of the research was to verify claims made by ‘Heat not Burn’ devices manufacturers that the products are about 90% safer than combustible cigarettes, by measuring nicotine and tar levels.

After conducting studies on three HnB devices; Philip Morris Korea’s IQOS, British American Tobacco’s Glo, and KT&G’s lil, earlier this month the ministry announced that these were found to be as harmful as conventional products.

Tobacco companies say the study was flawed

An independent COT study found the devices to be less risky than regular cigarettes.
In response to this, both British American Tobacco (BAT) Korea and Philip Morris Korea pointed out that the ministry’s studies were inaccurate and cited their own studies indicating  that the devices are significantly safer than regular cigarettes.

In rebuttal, the ministry said the study used an internationally accepted test model, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for conventional cigarettes and Health Canada (HC).

“We used methods recognized not only in Korea but other countries, including Germany, China, and Japan. It is absurd that tobacco firms are saying their method was only right. However, no other entity approved Philip Morris’ test method,” said Kim Dal-hwan, a research officer at the ministry.

An independent study indicating that HnB are safer than cigarettes

However, in line with the tobacco companies’ arguments, the independent Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) recently reviewed two “heat-not-burn” tobacco products, and found them to be less risky than regular cigarettes.

The COT reviewed PMI’s IQOS and British American Tobacco’s iFuse. The evidence gathered by the committee indicated that the products still pose a risk, but despite not being able to quantify the exact level, the COT said that this risk is less than that from smoking.

“The evidence suggests that heat-not-burn products still pose a risk to users. There is likely to be a reduction in risk for cigarette smokers who switch to heat-not-burn products but quitting entirely would be more beneficial.”Professor Alan Boobis, Chairman, COT

“The evidence suggests that heat-not-burn products still pose a risk to users,” said COT chairman Professor Alan Boobis. “There is likely to be a reduction in risk for cigarette smokers who switch to heat-not-burn products but quitting entirely would be more beneficial.”

Read Further: Korea Biomedical Review

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